2 August 2008
By Thulani Thwala (Editor, Swazi News )
My letter to the king
All protocol observed! Today I am writing an open letter to His Majesty King Mswati III. I feel strongly (wrongly or rightly) that his own people he trusted and believed in are taking him for a funny ride and it’s not funny anymore. Why are people doing this to the king? What has the king done to deserve such?
Is the king being punished for paying them so well? I don’t know. My task today is to politely address myself to His Majesty King Mswati III and I hope my letter will go a long way in helping the king find a solution to the problems that have a potential to rip the country apart.
The broader picture here is that at the end of it all, the king will have to shoulder the blame as father and leader of this country. From where I am sitting I felt an open letter to Ingwenyama would help. After all I am a citizen of this country and it is within my constitutional rights to give advice to the king verbally or otherwise. I opted for the latter. My letter seeks nothing but to highlight the dangers ahead of this somewhat illegal journey we have embarked on as a country. Our elections are ending right from the beginning. It hurts. My letter to Ingwenyama will also touch on the 40/40 party slated for September 6.
I am hopeful that loyalists who only sit around the king to tell him what he would like to hear will not misinterpret my open letter to my king. My letter will tell things, as they are bitter or sweet.
Your Majesty, I feel bad when I see people you appointed into high positions letting you down like this. What compounds matters, is when your own blood is involved. Some of your brothers are in this. The national elections have ended right at the beginning. Things are not right. The hullabaloo that has launched the elections is a clear sign Your Majesty that something is wrong.
The elections have become a mockery before they begin. I wonder if the king would be excited and happy with himself to open a Parliament whose elections were marked by numerous hurdles some of which border on illegal grounds.
As you read this letter Your Majesty no one is certain on whether these elections are legal or illegal. My immediate thinking is that they are illegal. We go to nominations today without the voter’s roll. We begin the nomination with a certain section of people still firmly occupying public office and they might be nominated. Some law-abiding citizens have already taken leave of absence from their respective work places to contest the elections but we still have a group of men and women who still call themselves Cabinet ministers. Why are they still in office? Should they be in office really? All they know is to fly expensively out of the country.
The Constitution and the King’s Order in Council of 1992 spells it out clearly that a person shall not qualify to be elected into the House of Assembly if “…is a member of the armed forces of Swaziland or is holding or acting in any public office or is holding or acting in any other office established by or under any law that may be prescribed”. This clause is very loud and clear Your Majesty.
Gija Dlamini, the man you appointed to lead the EBC is doing nothing about some of these glaring anomalies. However, I understand why Your Majesty, Gija is also guilty of holding a public office despite serving in the EBC. The constitutions frowns at what Gija is doing or has been doing.
We go to the nominations today Your Majesty a confused lot. As you read this letter we are not sure whether we are going or coming or both. We do not know whether what we are doing is right or wrong. Your country needs direction now and it can only be you to lead us. The people you entrusted with such a task have failed.
The people you appointed have let you down. I am sad that among the people who are letting you down is your brother, Prince David, the man you fetched from overseas to serve as Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister. He was also responsible for the drafting of the constitution he so much fails to interpret to us today. I seem to get a very negative vibe from David and I wonder why he is doing this to you and by extension to us as a country.
His silence is too loud.
There is also Majahenkhaba Dlamini, son of Prince Bhekimpi, who is the country’s Attorney General (AG), he too was David’s right hand man during the constitution drafting stage and today he is also loud in his silence.
As voters we needed direction on what we do with people like Cabinet ministers who still hold public office despite elections beginning tomorrow. Should we nominate them or what? I don’t know, Your Majesty.
I was hoping that Majahenkhaba would assist us as your people in interpreting the constitution as regards the elections. As you read this Your Majesty I am not sure whether we should have held the elections within the 60 days after the dissolution of Parliament or what? He is quiet and very quiet. If we had to have a government within 60 days then the elections are totally illegal. If proper people were working for you, this confusion would not be there.
I am not sure again if Gija and his team have come up with a gazette formalising the elections, something that is also a prerequisite. I will not be surprised to discover that this has not been done since they are also struggling to come up with the voters’ roll. Are the elections legal Your Majesty?
Again, Your Majesty, I did not understand the rush from Gija’s camp in announcing the nomination dates. To me that was too short a notice for something we knew was coming when we finished electing in 2003.
Assuming Gija and team live in Swaziland, why did they slot the nominations on dates that are heavily booked. It turns our entertainment promoters are well organised than Gija and team because they announced their events three months ago. The nominations’ weekend is loaded with festivals, soccer matches and our usual weekend events in Swaziland-funerals. Gija felt it would be right for such an important exercise like nominations to scramble for people with festivities. We all know where people will be.
This is where Your Majesty I draw the conclusion that Gija and team noted something terribly wrong in their operations and now we are made to run. Gija told us on Tuesday for Wednesday that nominations are on today and I wonder if that will work, but from the look of things it will not.
What amazes me Your Majesty is that you have been preaching about elections from the day you came out of seclusion but the people on the ground are leaving things until late and now we have to make quick decisions on whom to elect. This is not right Your Majesty.
The short notice has thoroughly compromised the electorate that will now have to nominate hastily to cover up for people who did not do their job. Some chiefs have not been able to convene meetings and I wonder if nominations will be held in some chiefdoms. These are the things that set you against your people Your Majesty.
This then brings me to the 40/40 national celebrations. The speed at which your government is running in preparing for this expensive event leaves a lot to be desired Your Majesty.
What should come first? Is 40/40 more important than what should form a base of the country’s development? It appears to me Your Majesty that the 40/40 is more important than the elections and I feel that is totally wrong. The 40/40 will only last for two days while the national elections should help produce people we (as a country) will be stuck with for five years. To me it follows that 40/40 should wait while we put our house in order as regards the elections.
After all Your Majesty, the country had 40 years to prepare for the celebrations and I doubt if we should be running around on issues related to the celebrations 40 years later, I don’t think so.
Like I said Your Majesty, the people you appointed into positions are letting you down big time. The conclusion we come to, as the public is that the king wants 40/40 to be a success over elections. I know that such a view is wrong but that is what your people are concluding because of what your government is doing. Like I have always said Your Majesty the buck stops with you, if something goes terribly wrong, it’s the king’s fault and when things are right you hear them say ‘it’s His Majesty’s Government’. Something needs to be done Your Majesty.
I strongly feel that of late, you have been getting wrong advice from the people you employed and pay handsomely monthly to do that. I further suspect they are up to something. Involved here are some of your brothers. It is sad.
The mockery that our elections have become worse than what happened in Zimbabwe and that is where I feel certain elements are out to tarnish your good image you have worked so hard to build.
What would Robert Mugabe say when he learns of the piles of court cases that have marred the elections before they could even take off and we go ahead with them nonetheless? I thought the Troika had suggested that Zimbabwe elections be suspended while pending issues were thrashed out.
Now, why is Gija rushing when he knows very well things are not right? This then portrays the king as playing double standards because he chairs the Troika that suggested Zim elections wait. I feel you need to crack the whip Your Majesty.
Sack the Liqoqo, sack anything that calls itself a Cabinet minister, sack Gija and team and get fresh minds that are willing to serve you and the country diligently. I feel these people have stabbed you in the back.
To help you Your Majesty a bit, in Malawi there are serious problems that have everything to do with Parliament and elections. The last time I checked, the president is running scared to officially open Parliament because MPs might impeach him. I would hate a situation where locally Parliament will be dissolved on its first day because of the anomalies that are characterising our elections. There is a high chance our elections are illegal.
I would hate a situation where you Your Majesty will come across as the bad man when you dissolve Parliament. Culturally, the king does not associate with stinking events and the elections are just that in my books. This then would make it extremely difficult for you to associate yourself with a stinking Parliament.
Your Majesty, like I said earlier on, this is just an honest letter from an honest citizen of this country aimed at highlighting some of the things that are likely to backfire in the long run.